National Reconciliation Week

It’s National Reconciliation Week. 

Organised each year by Reconciliation Australia, National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. It’s observed each year between 27 May and 3 June – commemorating the dates of the 1967 referendum and the historic Mabo decision in the High Court on Native Title, respectively.  

Reconciliation begins with Truth-Telling 

Reconciliation is impossible without recognising and understanding our own history, including the part that our public sector has played in our state’s dark past, and the many inequities we still struggle with today.   

Formed in 1897 as the Tasmanian Public Service Officers Association, our union has been with Tasmania’s public sector for over 125 years, and we must acknowledge the history we have had in the maintenance of systems and policies that have discriminated against the Tasmanian aboriginal community. 

Like much of Australia our history is mixed, as we are also proud of the record our union has had of standing in solidarity with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. We continue to advocate for the Tasmanian State Service to allow workers to not observe the Australia Day public holiday. Each year we join the thousands of Tasmanians at Invasion Day rallies calling on the Australian Government to change the date. 

Improving Conditions in our State Service 

Today the CPSU is committed to being informed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in our work. If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can get more involved by joining the CPSU’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Forum.

Through the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CPSU members and the Aboriginal Employment Network (AEN), we recently secured 5 days paid leave every year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers to access cultural and ceremonial obligations, or to attend community culture events.  

Kinship will now be better recognised and valued, with ‘immediate family’ redefined to recognise significant Aboriginal kinship relationships for accessing personal/carers leave, as well as compassionate and bereavement leave. These claims were developed and secured by our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Forum and the AEN.  

We support the Tasmanian Aboriginal community’s calls for Treaty and Truth-Telling. Unions believe in the motto: touch one, touch all. We will always stand in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fighting against injustices.  

There is a long way to go but by working together in the spirit of reconciliation, we will create a fairer society by raising living standards, working conditions, and quality of life for all Australians. 

Thirza White

General Secretary

Community & Public Sector Union

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